The Best London Restaurants for Any Occasion

British cookbook author Anna Jones shares her picks.

October 11, 2016

If anyone knows where to eat, drink, and find the best cinnamon and cardamom buns (yes, both) in London, it's Anna Jones. The London-based cookbook author—who's new book A Modern Way to Cook, was released in August—vegetarian pioneer, and "The New Nigella," as she's been called, shared her picks with us for everything from the most cloud-like bao to the best jams. Check out her recommendations below:

For Brunch

Sunday: During the weekend, it's never without a queue and that's for very good reason. This low-key neighborhood spot is just around the corner from a prop house I go to all the time for shoots, which is a great excuse to eat there. The food is bright and flavor-forward. Whether it's the courgette with halloumi fritters or incredible french toast with salted caramel, the menu is ever-changing and always amazing. There is a little oasis of a garden out back, too, for when the sun shines.

Jim's Cafe: This café just opened on a great little market street close to my home. It has great fresh breakfast bowls, waffles, and juices.

Restaurant fronts like this make us want to pack our bags. Photo by Anna Jones

For Lunch or a Relaxed Dinner

Padella pasta: Opened by friend and ex-Jamie Oliver chef Tim Sidatian, Padella is pasta done right. It has a small menu, sometimes a long queue, and the cacio e pepe and tagliatelle pomodro are so on point.

Shop the Story

Bao: I dream of these soft, pillowy, cloud-like Chinese steamed buns; the vegetarian ones come with thick wedges of daikon or squash inside. Bao has three spots around London, but I get mine from their stand at Netil Market most Saturdays.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I love the E5 Bakehouse (and live in East London) but their stuff isn't as good as this guy's!”
— Caro M.

Fifteen London: This is where I tried as a chef and somewhere that will always feel like home. The brilliant Robin Holm runs the kitchen and makes food led by British ingredients (some even come from Jamie Oliver's actual garden), with Holm's own sense and Swedish influence. I adore his cooking—and they make a good cocktail, too. The restaurant supports the Fifteen Apprentice Foundation, which changes peoples lives by offering them a chance to cook. It's a special place.

For a Celebration

Spring: Spring is beautiful, calm, and delicate in all the best possible ways. Fueled by the amazing vegetables grown just for Spring by Fern Verrow farm, it features an exquisite, joyful menu from Skye Gyngell. It's just the loveliest place to be.

Gnudi and dessert at Spring. Yes and yes! Photo by Anna Jones

Lyle's: Another calm and considered place to eat. The brilliant chef here, James Lowe, has such a light touch with techniques and flavors and there's almost always something new, rare, or interesting to try. They make a special effort for vegetarians, too. It's damn good food.

We'll take all of the cupcakes from Violet. Photo by Anna Jones

For Baked Things and Jam

Violet: Claire's cakes (and everything else) are very difficult to beat.

E5 Bakehouse: My husband cycles here at least twice a week to pick up a loaf of their sourdough. (He's now at the stage where he's upset if he eats bread from anywhere else.) It's, for my money, the best sourdough in London. Their aim is to make all their bread from organic wheat grown and milled in the UK.

Custard donuts from Violet: cue oohs and ahhs. Photo by Anna Jones

London Borough of Jam: Lille makes jams in small batches with way less sugar than anyone else I know—and her flavor combinations are insane. Plum and fennel pollen, Fig and Earl Grey, Rhubarb and Orange blossom, Amalfi Lemon marmalade—I could go on. The shop also houses a perfectly curated collection of good things to cook, read, and drink.

Fabrique: A Swedish bakery with incredible sourdough and even more incredible cinnamon and cardamon buns.

Have a favorite spot in London that's not to miss? Share it in the comments below!

Dandy Cafe and Cooper and Wolf have been removed from this list because they are permanently closed.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Cheri Mayell
    Cheri Mayell
  • Caro McAdam
    Caro McAdam
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    Alex Micu
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Cheri M. April 30, 2017
Keep up the comments this is a goldmine of information for next visit!
These look amazing.
Caro M. April 19, 2017
Sorry, the best sourdough is from The Hill Bakery in Camberwell! I love the E5 Bakehouse (and live in East London) but their stuff isn't as good as this guy's!
Alex M. October 14, 2016
october 26 bakery in Shepherd's Bush. Top 3 sourdough loaves in London
Gill October 12, 2016
Honey and Co on Warren Street, where Sarit Pacer and Itamar Srulovich and their team produce wonderful Middle Eastern inspired food. Also try their deli/take out/tiny cafe, Honey and Spice just opposite.